When I first fell in love with this 8 foot tall shrieking demon, I never thought that over three decades later I would be introducing my kids to his music. That his songs would be covered by countless bands and the Bathory Hordes would grow to where they are now. Every day I meet someone new, whether old or young, who just found out about Quorthon’s genius. It’s an amazing feeling. I don’t remember where I was exactly the first time I heard Born For Burning . The friends’ names that I was with are long forgotten but the feeling is still there. I vividly remember how it affected me. I’d heard Venom and Hellhammer, our own Polish Vader, but this was different.. It was colder, and sinister and so evil. Almost scary..made the hair on my arms stand up and my spine tingle. Could’ve been the vodka we were drinking too, but I still can feel it now and I don’t drink anymore. I needed more, it was like an addiction.
All I could get was a poor copy of a bootleg cassette but I played it til it wouldn’t play anymore. I remember music class in school, boys with their Maiden tapes, the girls enamored with Europe and me playing Bathory. I swear they thought I was Possessed along with Quorthon! By the time Under The Sign came out, I would gladly Enter The Eternal Fire with him . This, to this day is THE blueprint of what a perfect black metal song and album should be. I think back then we called it death metal but those are just names. What’s important is the music. The music that got me through some very dark times in my life. Blood Fire Death became my battle hymn, my “I can do this” song. The move to a foreign country, across the ocean, language barriers, leaving everything I knew and loved behind. Somehow I kept sane, as Quorthon said in one of my favorite interviews – the sword is inside. His music helped me find strength and eventually I made new friends. They weren’t into Bathory, they were mostly thrash, doom and NYC hardcore. I had Hammerheart all to myself. It didn’t fit their styles. I will never forget that first listen, Shores In Flames, Ace singing. SINGING with a clean voice. That perfectly imperfect voice filled with so much passion. Made my heart sing with him. It was extremely powerful, he poured his heart into it. This wasn’t a wild boy growling about the evil one, this was a man showing pride in his ancestry. He drew me into this world of swords and warriors and the beautifully cold North.
I feel it to this day, the power of that album is unmeasurable. Around this time I also discovered that my bloody demon child wasn’t a 9 foot tall leather-winged baby eater after all. He was a gentle, soft spoken, highly intelligent and very articulate man. But then I wasn’t a devil worshipping kid anymore either. I grew up just as his music matured and grew. Somehow it always was perfectly timed to my feelings and likes. I didn’t know much about this mysterious man and didn’t know what rumors to believe. This was before the easy accessibility of the age of the internet. I remember some of the rumors around Twilight of the Gods that Quorthon died. I remember hearing some pretty ridiculous stories surrounding him. They really didn’t matter as long as he pleased my ears with new music. I welcomed the change of pace on his solo Album with open arms. I embraced Requiem. It had raw energy reminiscent of the earlier years but without the occult. Or a different take on it. Octagon with its putrid nasty creatures was disgustingly satisfying. I can go on about every album, each one has some special place in my heart. With Nordland he took me on such a wonderful journey, I could close my eyes and BE there. Just his voice and music and my imagination. Perfect. When the news hit that he was gone I really didn’t believe it. It wasn’t real. All these years later it still feels like a bad dream. I still cry when I hear The Ravens.
No, not the uncontrollable sobbing that I thought would never stop. Like the first time I heard it after his death, the floodgates of raw feelings opening up, unstoppable. I had nobody to share the pain with and it was like this oozing, never healing wound. I couldn’t listen to his voice and not lose it. I didn’t listen to Bathory for a long time. Didn’t really listen to much at all. Just some Rush to soothe my soul. Then one day looking through some old pictures I found one from Poland, my last day there, me in my hand painted Bathory shirt. All the feelings that he used to stir flooding back. I didn’t own any of his cds anymore and had nowhere to play my vinyls..so I went online and Foreverdark Woods was the first song that came up. Ohhh that voice, brought me back to that other time and place. I needed his music back in my life. To celebrate him, not mourn, but really remember him the right way. Somehow over the years he stopped being Quorthon, the mysterious legend. He became Ace. The gently smiling man, so good to his fans, the loving brother to his siblings, the great friend to his many wonderful friends. The very driven musician who always did what he wanted, who didn’t succumb to pressure from the music industry or the metal media. Never sold his soul for a buck. Everything he did was for us, his Hordes. It shows. His passion, his whole heart poured into his music, making us feel exactly what he wanted us to feel. That voice always in my ears, that voice that I can’t get enough of, my addiction. Day Of Wrath on headphones is like frisson, catharsis.
Yes, I’m just a little bit obsessed but it’s the best kind of obsession and I’m happy with it.I’m not a writer or a musician, so it’s not easy for me to express all that Bathory is. I know that he took me on some soaring adventures and stirred deep feelings within my soul. I know his music lives on and will keep pleasing our ears. But I miss him, I do still grieve and I do try to do my best to keep his memory alive. As much as he hated any fuss around his person, I do hope he’d love how his Horde still loves him deeply. Ode pretty much sums up this humble man who’s mind was not for sale. I love you eternally Ace, wherever you are.
Hail Bathory and Hail the Hordes!